Sheila MacNeil


Dept of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 3AU ,UK


My group has been involved in delivering cell therapy to the clinic since 1992.  This started with an interaction with a burns unit in a Sheffield hospital where I cultured autologous epithelial keratinocytes for patients with extensive full thickness burns. After a 10 year audit of this it became clear there was room for improvement1.  We improved on the cell delivery system, developing a cell carrier system, Myskin™, through a spin out company, CellTran Ltd.  The development of the carrier was acheived because of  sustained support from surgeons in the Burns Unit and then colleagues working with diabetic ulcers – we published a small single-blind study demonstrating that MySkin offered benefit to patients with diabetic ulcers2. This product, Myskin™, has now been used by 11 out of the 13 Burns Units in the UK and has been on the market for 12 years now. 

Following that we produced tissue engineered skin containing epidermal and dermal layers designed to be used for elective reconstructive surgery and took that to small scale clinical evaluation in patients for reconstruction of burns contractures –this identified problems of delayed vascularisation and skin contraction 3 which we then studied extensively in 3D in vitro models. We moved forward clinically with  tissue engineered buccal mucosa which  was used  for replacing scarred tissue of the urethra4. These grafts were all well vascularised but in some patients these went on to develop fibrosis –a recurrent condition for these patients. More recently, I have worked closely with an ophthalmic surgeon in India to simplify current treatments for the regeneration of the cornea and we have developed a simple synthetic alternative to the human donor amniotic membrane which is currently used in this technique .

In summary by working closely with surgeons it is possible to develop epithelial tissues to be used as an adjunct to conventional surgical approaches and in some cases to simplify and improve how cultured cell therapy is used to achieve clinical benefit.


1.       Hernon CA, Dawson RA, Freedlander E, Short R, Haddow DB, Brotherston M and MacNeil S. Clinical experience using cultured epithelial autografts leads to an alternative methodology for transfering skin cells from the laboratory to the patient.  Regenerative Medicine  1(6):809-821. (2006)

2.       Moustafa M, Bullock AJ, Creagh FM, Heller S, Jeffcoate W, Game F, Amery C, Tesfaye S, Ince Z, Haddow DB and MacNeil S. Randomised controlled single blind prospective pilot study on the use of autologous keratinocytes on a transfer dressing (Myskin) in the treatment of non-healing diabetic ulcers. Regenerative Medicine 2(6):887-902. (2007)

3.       MacNeil S. Progress and Opportunities in Tissue Engineering of Skin. Nature Insights. Nature 445, 874-880 (2007)

4.       Osman N. Long-term follow-up after tissue engineered buccal mucosa urethroplasty.  European Urology.  66(1):790-791 (2014).

5.       Deshpande P, Ramachandran C, Sefat F, Mariappan I, Johnson C, McKean R, Hannah M, Sangwan VS, Claeyssens F, Ryan AJ, MacNeil S.  Simplifying corneal surface regeneration using a biodegradable synthetic membrane and limbal tissue explants.  Biomaterials. 34(21): 5088-5106 (2013)


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